Tradition & Bitless

Bitless: Sometimes modern science tells us that tradition had it right all along…

If old working cowboys were experimenting with what was most sustainable and effective, day after day, forming hypotheses and adjusting as necessary, I guess we we could say they were scientists in their own right, and their formula for bitless still holds true today.

I rode in the rope hackamore for years, and have ridden in a sidepull and bitless bridle; after riding in the traditional hackamore, I would never go back.

My mare in a hackamore that is correctly shaped, no daylight.

The traditional hackamore has a pre-signal that the others do not have that gives your horse the chance to respond before you actually apply pressure, and it’s fit and surface area make it more humane than the rope hackamore, but also more effective due to the way it ‘hugs’ the contours of the face, spreading contact over a wide area.

But it has to be fitted and shaped properly for the mechanics to work. If you can see daylight anywhere along the top or sides, you are concentrating pressure and liable to create rubs, as well as losing the benefit of the ‘hug’ of the bosal to create an effective lateral signal.

Not shaped to the horse’s nose; ineffective and potentially harmful and liable to create rubs.








A hackamore correctly fitted and angled.

For the signal mechanics to work as Martin Black is describing in the video below, the heel knot needs to rest on the chin, and the top needs to be angled up on the nose, above the v of the nasal bone. From the side, it should have an angle, not lay perpendicular to the plane of the face, or it won’t have any ‘drop.’


Improperly fitted and bisecting the face straight.

If you have ridden in one before and been disappointed, maybe it’s time to try one again.

The rope hackamore- not bad, I rode in one for years, but just be aware there is little to no pre-signal because it’s difficult to get the noseband high enough to create a ‘drop’ with the bottom laying lower towards the chin because of the restriction of the fiador type part of the halter…
Not bashing on the rope hackamore; I used it exclusively for trail riding, colt starting and gathering cattle for years. Just sharing what I have learned and experienced with the traditional hackamore/bosal.


Keep riding the spiral path,


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